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Want to turn a plain meal into a gourmet delight? Or create a nutritional powerhouse that fights off colds and flu? Or enjoy some comfort food on a cold winter’s night?

Then it’s time to bring out the chicken stock. Whether it is to enjoy chicken noodle soup or a variety of other soups, make a risotto that will please the crowds, or even add flavour to rice and pasta dishes, chicken stock is a must. And, if you have time, make it yourself and see the difference. After all, you have a say in the ingredients that go into it.

While it takes time to make a tasty nourishing stock, it couldn’t be more simple. Here is a basic recipe

Basic Chicken Stock

1 kilo (more or less) of chicken bones, chicken frame, or even an old ‘boiler’ chicken.
1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1-2 celery ribs, chopped
1-2 onions
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf (alternatively, try 1 tablespoon of tomato catsup - it adds amazing flavour)
1-2 stocks of parsley
Splash of vinegar (draws out nutrition but the flavour evaporates)
Salt & pepper to taste.

If possible, roast the first five ingredients in the oven at 200 C (400 F) for one hour. Use a dutch oven if you can. Alternatively, you can stir fry in a couple of tablespoons of oil these same ingredients for a few minutes in the fry pan. The flavour release that roasting or stir-frying does is worth the effort.

If you use a whole chicken, after roasting, allow to cool on a plate. Remove the skin, reserve the white meat (breast) for soup and refrigerate. Take the remainder of the meat and chop up. Put this meat, and all bones, into the pot.

Put all ingredients in a large pot or stockpot. Fill the pot with cold, clean (filtered) water until the bird is just covered. Bring the pot to just before it boils, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered. Do not let it boil. It should be gently bubbling. Continue for about 3 hours. Remove the foam the rises to the surface. There is an infusion of flavour and nutrition during the bubbling process.

After cooking, you put the stock in the fridge, chill, and remove the fat. Or, you can use it immediately but put some ice cubes in some muslin cloth, to attract and remove the fat.

Remove bones, vegetables, meat, everything and reserve the pure stock for soups, risottos, and other dishes that require stock.

Chicken soup: there are many varieties. Our family likes chicken, vegetable and noodle (you can use rice instead, but remember that rice and noodles will expand and, if left alone, will take over the entire pot).

Heat the stock, with the chopped up chicken breast (you can use the dark meat if you need), chopped up stock vegetables (or fresh ones), half a cup of noodles or rice, 1-2 chicken stock cubes. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 20-30 minutes. A teaspoon of turmeric (optional but it has excellent health properties and adds a nice yellow colour). For Mediterranean-style, add lemon juice (this is a family favourite) and a bit more garlic.

Not only this soup delicious, it helps knock on the head colds and flus.



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